(WMC-TV) - Memphis City Council started to pick apart Mayor A C Wharton's proposed budget after he released it Tuesday. The promise of no new taxes may not come true.
Mayor Wharton's proposed budget is $596 million, which is about $18 million less than the last one. His grand plan may not get past the 13-member council.
"I believe this is an historic moment in our city's evolution," said Wharton.
The proposed budget includes, in Wharton's words, painful reforms for city employees, but they are necessary, he says, to keep the city on the right track moving forward.
"One of these days, I hope we'll be able to deliver a budget that doesn't have as much pain in it," said Wharton.
Major pension and healthcare reforms are hallmarks of Wharton's plan as is "right-sizing" public safety through reorganization of duties. At the same time, there is increased spending on neighborhood redevelopment with no tax increase.
"You know, no new tax increase is a good headline, but it is not reflective of the way we're heading if you extrapolate the numbers out," said council member Shea Flinn.
Wharton's plan will be debated over the next couple of months by the council: some of whom are adamantly opposed to monumental changes in retiree benefits.
"If you're going to single out just the retirees, that seems like it's discriminatory against a particular group. I don't like that," said council member Janis Fullilove.
Wharton realizes there is a lot of work, and potential headache, ahead.
"I take no pride in this," he said. "It's just that under the charter, I have to take the first step."
The mayor says he is also willing to meet one-on-one with council members as detailed budget discussions begin. A budget must be approved by the end of June.
To read the mayor's budget address in its entirety then follow the link: http://ftpcontent4.worldnow.com/wmctv/FY15%20Budget%20Speech.pdf.
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